Game-time temperature was 91 degrees Sunday, the hottest ever for a regular-season game in Denver.
It didn’t take long for Seattle to meltdown against the Broncos. One week after the Seahawks began their season with a win no one expected, they suffered a loss they really could have avoided.
Seattle lost 31-14 in Denver, but the result wasn’t exactly a surprise. This is a city that is notoriously problematic and not just for the Seahawks though they entered the game 5-20 all-time in Denver. The Broncos have now won 11 consecutive home-opener, which is the longest active streak in the NFL.
The real cause for concern is the way Seattle lost this game because the Seahawks did just that, they lost it.
Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted twice, both times inside the Denver 10. The Seahawks had a first-quarter touchdown wiped out by a holding penalty against Sean Locklear and rookie Walter Thurmond fumbled away a first-quarter punt that set up Denver’s first touchdown.
The defense even gave up a 34-yard gain on a third-down trick play in which Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton pitched the ball to running back Knowshon Moreno who passed backward to Orton who heaved it downfield to a wide-open Eddie Royal.
Circus music was the perfect soundtrack to the first half, which concluded with Seattle trailing 17-0. Seattle was penalized seven times for 64 yards, the Broncos twice for 20. Seattle committed three turnovers, Denver none.
About the only bright spot for Seattle was the performance of rookie Golden Tate. He returned a punt 63 yards in the third quarter, which was the first time he touched the ball as a Seahawk. He caught a pass down the sideline later in the period and ran downfield for a 52-yard gain. That possession fizzled with a decision that fit with the dubious nature of Seattle’s performance.
Seattle trailed by 17 late in the third quarter and the Seahawks faced fourth-and-2 with the ball at the Denver 20. Seattle didn’t just go for it, the Seahawks went for it all, throwing toward Deion Branch in the corner of the end zone while defended by cornerback Champ Bailey.
Yes, you read that correctly. Seattle could have attempted a field goal to make it a 14-point game. It could have tried a higher-percentage play to get the requisite first-down yardage. Instead, the Seahawks decided to throw toward its shortest receiver in the corner of the end zone while he was being defended by one of the very best cornerbacks in the NFL.
A fitting end for a game that was a debacle. Hasselbeck scored on a 20-yard scramble with 5:59 left in the game, but the Seahawks failed to recover the onside kick.
The game was well in hand by then.
Seattle’s first drive of got as far as the Denver 1 before it was derailed by mistakes, first a false-start penalty against guard Stacy Andrews and then a holding penalty on Sean Locklear nullified a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Justin Forsett. And then Matt Hasselbeck decided to try and lob a pass over the head of Bailey to Branch only to have Bailey intercept the pass.
But Seattle didn’t just hurt itself, it helped the Broncos. Thurmond fumbled away the first punt he fielded. Denver recovered at the Seattle 13 and scored three plays later on a third-down pass from Orton to Eddie Royal.
Orton passed for two touchdowns and Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter each rushed for a touchdown for Denver.